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Mental wellbeing support sought-after employee benefit

8 October 2020

Mental wellbeing support has risen to become the most sought-after employee benefit among smaller businesses, new research from OpenMoney has revealed.

A quarter (25%) of UK SMEs said they are keen to introduce some form of mental health support within the next six months, with 30% already offering this type of benefit.

Meanwhile a similar number of firms (24%) want to introduce payroll savings. It follows a study by the CIPD which found that less than a quarter (24%) of employers’ health and wellbeing activity was designed to support financial wellbeing in 2019.

The statistics, put together by OpenMoney’s employee benefits service WorkLife, found a further 22% of firms would like to offer their employees’ health insurance and services, cycle-to-work and technology discounts.

Rob Marshall, managing director, WorkLife, says: “Returning to work hasn’t meant returning to normality, not for struggling small businesses anyway. And it certainly hasn’t for their workers, with so many taking a financial hit and now facing continued worries surrounding job security.

“Particularly now, employers have a vital role to play in supporting their workers’ mental and financial wellbeing. Employee benefits have become about so much more than pensions and insurances, but the fact is even offering simple and low-cost features like guidance on managing stress, mental health or retail discounts can give an important helping hand in times like these. Benefits like free financial advice, while currently among the least currently implemented, can go even further to helping ease some of the financial and mental stresses people will be facing right now.”

According to WorkLife, the biggest barrier cited by SMEs was a concern they were too small to offer such schemes (36%), with a further 31% believing such benefits were too expensive.

The cost to the business was also a major factor, with 82% citing this reason, closely followed by the need for benefits to be easy for employees to access (80%).

Marshall adds: “While it’s encouraging to see so many SMEs wanting to boost their employees’ mental and financial wellbeing, misconceptions surrounding accessibility mean good intentions are as yet not always translating into concrete benefit decisions across the board. As an industry we must do more to raise awareness of the options available to this section of the market, or else small businesses will never stand a chance of levelling up with their larger counterparts.”

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